Book Review: Barbara Brundage’s Photoshop Elements 6: The Missing Manual

Barbara Brundage’s Photoshop Elements 6: The Missing ManualBarbara Brundage’s book, Photoshop Elements 6: The Missing Manual, is a big thick book. When it came in the mail, I thought there were two books in that parcel. No, this is not your pocket-sized guide by any stretch of the imagination; it’s thick and heavy and it’s as big as a house (ok, 7″x9¼” and almost an inch and a half thick).

Reading through the book, which is quite a breeze thanks to Barbara’s very easy language, makes it clear why this book is so thick. It is very thorough.

The book is all of 567 pages, with 19 chapters broken down into 6 parts that explore all the features of Photoshop Elements 6, every nook and cranny, all the tools – even the hidden features – and it covers all the bases in a language that’s written to be understood by ordinary folks like you and me.

And that is Barbara’s gift, her ability to communicate in so plain a manner that makes you easily grasp the subject and figure out for yourself what a tool is all about. It’s like having a big sister holding your hand and walking you through a very pleasant learning experience.

Of course it helps that Photoshop Elements is not as difficult as the full-blown and very complicated Photoshop CS3. Unlike that gorilla, Elements is a pared down yet very capable photo editing program for folks who want to enhance their pictures for friends and family to see.

This latest version of Elements also does quite well in the photo management department, in organizing photos so that they are easy to find. It even looks like Lightroom, that digital imaging workflow for professional photographers, with its graphite window interface.

This book, as with Photoshop Elements 6, is intended for folks who love to take and keep photos: moms who keep tabs of family memorabilia, scrapbookers who want to enhance pictures and compile them as digital albums or as full blown prints and digital photographers in general who don’t know what to do with their growing collection of digital images in their hard drive.

Barbara takes the reader to all of Photoshop Elements from downloading pictures from the camera or importing them from other sources, to organizing and saving the photos. She even shows us how to capture frames from a video to use as a still photo! How’s that for thoroughness?

From photo organization, the author takes us step-by-step to what Photoshop Elements can do with pictures, and for that you may have to take a peep down below at the table of contents to see how thoroughly she covers each subject.

In brief though, Barbara shows us how to retouch images to repair and restore old and damaged photos and jazz them up with dozens of filters, frames and special effects that bring out that “Wow!” in an otherwise drab snapshot.

If you’re new to image editing, Barbara can make you easily grasp what layers – the heart of Photoshop – are all about, how useful they are for pros and how to use them to improve your pictures. You will also learn how to create collages and photo layout pages for greeting cards and other projects.

She also covers printing very thoroughly, how to optimize your image to produce a beautiful printed photograph whether you’re printing it yourself on that inkjet home printer or with a printing kiosk.

Web galleries? She covers that too, because Photoshop Elements 6 gives you a way to create your own online photo galleries; yes, photos on the Internet for all your friends and the world to see! You may also share your photos via slideshows; the author shows us how to do that too.

Barbara is so thorough there’s hardly a feature of Elements not covered in this book. My only beef is that I can’t seem to make the Adobe Photo Downloader go away from my System Tray after installing PE6. But that’s the application’s quirk, not Barbara’s fault.

Photoshop Elements 6: The Missing Manual by Barbara Brundage, Pogue Press, O’Reilly, 7″ x 9 ¼” 567 pages, US $39.99, CAN $47.99

Table of Contents

The Missing Credits

Part One: Introduction to Elements
Chapter 1. Finding Your Way Around Elements
The Welcome Screen
Organizing Your Photos
Photo Downloader
Editing Your Photos
Your Elements Tools
Panels, Bins, and Palettes
Getting Help
Escape Routes
Getting Started in a Hurry

Chapter 2. Importing, Managing, and Saving Your Photos
Importing from Cameras
The Photo Downloader
Opening Stored Images
Working with PDF Files
Scanning Photos
Capturing Video Frames
Creating a New File
Picking a File Size
Choosing Resolution
Choosing Color Mode
Choosing Your File’s Background Contents
Using the Organizer
The Photo Browser
Creating Categories and Tags
Albums and Smart Albums
Searching for Photos
Searching by Metadata
Saving Your Work
The File Formats Elements Understands
Changing the File Format
Backing Up Your Files
Organizer Backups
Making Quick CDs/DVDs

Chapter 3. Rotating and Resizing Your Photos
Straightening Scanned Photos
Straightening Two or More Photos at a Time
Straightening Individual Photos
Rotating Your Images
Rotating and Flipping Options
Straightening the Contents of Your Image
Straighten Tool
Free Rotate
Cropping Pictures
Using the Crop Tool
Cropping Your Image to an Exact Size
Cropping with the Marquee Tool
Zooming and Repositioning Your View
Image Views
The Zoom Tool
The Hand Tool
Changing the Size of Your Image
Resizing Images for Email and the Web
Resizing for Printing
Adding Canvas

Part Two: Elemental Elements

Chapter 4. The Quick Fix
The Quick Fix Window
The Quick Fix Toolbox
The Quick Fix Control Panel
Different Views: After vs. Before and After
Editing Your Photos
Fixing Red Eye
Smart Fix
Adjusting Lighting and Contrast
Quick Fix Suggested Workflow
Adjusting Skin Tones

Chapter 5. Making Selections
Selecting Everything
Selecting Rectangular and Elliptical Areas
Selecting Irregularly Sized Areas
Controlling the Selection Tools
Selecting with a Brush
The Selection Brush
The Magic Wand
The Lasso Tools
Removing Objects from an Image’s Background
Changing and Moving Selections
Inverting a Selection
Making a Selection Larger or Smaller
Moving Selections
Saving Selections

Chapter 6. Layers: The Heart of Elements
Understanding Layers
The Layers Palette
The Background
Creating Layers
Adding a Layer
Deleting Layers
Duplicating a Layer
Copying and Cutting from Layers
Managing Layers
Making Layers Invisible
Adjusting Transparency
Locking Layers
Blend Mode
Rearranging Layers
Aligning and Distributing Layers
Grouping and Linking Layers
Merging and Flattening Layers
Fill and Adjustment Layers
Adding Fill and Adjustment Layers
Layer Masks
Moving Layers Between Images

Part Three: Retouching

Chapter 7. Basic Image Retouching
Fixing Exposure Problems
Deciding Which Exposure Fix to Use
Fixing Major Exposure Problems
The Shadows/Highlights Command
Controlling the Colors You See
Calibrating Your Monitor
Choosing a Color Space
Using Levels
Understanding the Histogram
Adjusting Levels: The Eyedropper Method
Adjusting Levels: The Slider Controls
Removing Unwanted Color
Using the Color Cast Tool
Using Color Variations
Choosing the Color You Want
The Color Picker
The Eyedropper Tool
The Color Swatches Palette
Sharpening Your Images
Unsharp Mask
Adjust Sharpness
The High-Pass Filter
The Sharpen Tool

Chapter 8. Elements for Digital Photographers
The RAW Converter
Using the RAW Converter
Adjusting White Balance
Adjusting Tone
Adjusting Vibrance and Saturation
Adjusting Sharpness and Reducing Noise
Converting to DNG
Photo Filter
Processing Multiple Files
Choosing Your Files
Renaming Your Files
Changing Image Size and File Type
Applying Quick Fix Commands
Attaching Labels

Chapter 9. Retouching: Fine-Tuning Your Images
Fixing Blemishes
The Spot Healing Brush: Fixing Small Areas
The Healing Brush: Fixing Larger Areas
The Clone Stamp
Applying Patterns
The Healing Brush
The Pattern Stamp
Color Curves: Enhancing Tone and Contrast
Making Your Colors More Vibrant
Using the Hue/Saturation Dialog Box
Adjusting Saturation with the Sponge Tool
Changing the Color of an Object
Using an Adjustment Layer
Replacing Specific Colors
Using a Brush to Replace Colors
Special Effects

Chapter 10. Removing and Adding Color
Method One: Making Color Photos Black and White
Method Two: Removing Color from a Photo
Creating Spot Color
Erasing Colors from a Duplicate Layer
Removing Color from Selections
Using an Adjustment Layer and the Saturation Slider
Colorizing a Black-and-White Photo
Tinting an Entire Photo

Chapter 11. Photomerge: Creating Panoramas, Group Shots, and More
Creating Panoramas
Making a Panorama
Merging Different Faces
Arranging a Group Shot
Correcting Lens Distortion
Transforming Images
Skew, Distort, Perspective
Free Transform

Part Four: Artistic Elements

Chapter 12. Drawing with Brushes, Shapes, and Other Tools
Picking and Using a Basic Brush
Modifying Your Brush
Saving Modified Brush Settings
The Specialty Brushes
Making a Custom Brush
The Impressionist Brush
The Pencil Tool
The Paint Bucket
Dodging and Burning
Blending and Smudging
Blend Modes
The Smudge Tool
The Eraser Tool
Using the Eraser
The Magic Eraser
The Background Eraser
Drawing with Shapes
Rectangle and Rounded Rectangle
Line Tool
The Custom Shape Tool
The Shape Selection Tool
The Cookie Cutter

Chapter 13. Filters, Effects, Layer Styles, and Gradients
Using Filters
Applying Filters
Filter Categories
Useful Filter Solutions
Adding Effects
Adding Layer Styles
Applying Gradients
The Gradient Tool
Gradient Fill Layer
Editing a Gradient
Saving Gradients
Gradient Maps

Chapter 14. Type in Elements
Adding Type to an Image
Type Options
Creating Text
Editing Type
Warping Type
The Warp Text Dialog Box
Adding Special Effects
Text Effects
Type Gradients
Applying the Liquify Filter to Type
Type Masks: Setting an Image in Type
Using the Type Mask Tools
Creating Outlined Type

Part Five: Sharing Your Images

Chapter 15. Creating Projects
Photo Collages
Creating Multipage Documents
Working with the Content and Favorites Palettes
The Content Palette
The Favorites Palette
Photo Books
Greeting Cards
CD/DVD Jacket
CD/DVD Label
Online Creations

Chapter 16. Printing Your Photos
Getting Ready to Print
Ordering Prints
Ordering Prints Online
Printing at Home (The Editor)
Page Setup
Print Window
Printing at Home (The Organizer)
Printing Multiple Photos
Contact Sheets
Picture Package

Chapter 17. Elements and the Web
Image Formats and the Web
Saving Images for the Web or Email
Using Save For Web
Previewing Images and Adjusting Color
Creating Animated GIFs
Emailing Your Photos
Emailing Images
Sending Photos to Other Gear
Sharing Photos with Yahoo Maps

Chapter 18. Online Galleries, Slideshows, and Flipbooks
Online Galleries
Creating an Online Gallery
PDF Slideshows
Using the Slide Show Editor

Part Six: Additional Elements

Chapter 19. Beyond the Basics
Graphics Tablets
Free Stuff from the Internet
When You Really Need Photoshop
Beyond This Book

Part Seven: Appendixes

Appendix A. The Organizer, Menu by Menu

Appendix B. The Editor, Menu by Menu

Appendix C. Installation and Troubleshooting


Published by Chris Malinao

Chris teaches Lightroom as workflow software to photography students at the FPPF, Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation. He also teaches smartphone photography.